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August 3, 2011The Texas Tech Red Raiders are expected to rely on several newcomers from its nationally-ranked 2011 recruiting class to play critical roles this season. From inside receiver to defensive end, these players are expected to push for playing time at almost every position group.
Here are five newcomers -- defined for the purposes of this piece as 2011 signees that did not enroll early -- to watch when Tech opens fall camp on Saturday.
TE Jace Amaro - It's been a long time since the Red Raiders have had an offensive player like Amaro. He obviously stands out from a measurables standpoint -- Tech's official roster lists him at 6-foot-5, 246 pounds -- but he's also the most heralded prep prospects to sign with the Red Raiders in over a decade. Amaro begins his collegiate career in a rather unique situation; not only is he Tech's highest-ranked high school recruit in recent memory, but he joins a team that has just one other player, Tony Trahan, at his position.
WR Jakeem Grant - Not only was Grant one of the lowest-ranked of the Red Raiders' 2011 signees, at 5-foot-6, 151-pounds he is also the smallest player on the roster. Despite all of that, no newcomer has generated more buzz over the summer than Grant. He's already impressed veterans like Seth Doege and Mickey Okafor as well as Tech's strength and conditioning staff; on Saturday, he'll have his first chance to impress the Red Raiders' offensive coaching staff.
DE Leon Mackey - From the moment that he signed with Tech, Mackey has been penciled in by media and Red Raider fans as an eventual starter for Tommy Tuberville's team. To be sure, expectations are high for Mackey -- Rivals.com's second-ranked junior college defensive end -- and no player outside of quarterback Seth Doege will be watched closer this fall. If Mackey lives up to expectations, Tech's defensive line could end up being the strength of Chad Glasgow's defense.
DT Delvon Simmons - Much like Amaro, Simmons arrives on campus with impeccable blue chip credentials; he was a universal national top 100 prospect that impressed at the U.S. Army All-American Game. Unlike Amaro, though, Simmons has plenty of competition around him -- the Red Raiders haven't had this many more workable options up front in at least two seasons. Suffice it to say, Simmons is Tech's most heralded high school defensive signee in 15-plus years and for that reason alone there will be plenty of eyeballs on him when Tech opens fall camp.
DT Dennell Wesley - Normally, 6-foot-2, 310-pound defensive tackles don't fly under the radar, but that's exactly what Wesley has done. He was one of lowest-ranked signees in the Red Raiders' 2011 class, didn't do many interviews during the recruiting process and has been in Lubbock for less than a week -- yet he has a better chance to play this fall than most of the team's newcomers. Tech doesn't have a player like him on the roster, a space-eating defensive tackle; for the most part, the rest of the team's interior linemen are either tweeners or undersized.